Ancestry UK

Norfolk Incorporations and Gilbert Unions

During the eighteenth century, many Norfolk parishes formed groupings to jointly manage poor relief. Some of these were established through Local Acts of Parliament which set up local "Incorporations" to administer relief and operate a workhouse. All together, seven Norfolk Incorporations were formed in this way:

1764Loddon & Clavering
1775East & West Flegg, Mitford & Launditch
1785Tunstead & Happing

Gilbert's Act of 1782 allowed groups of parishes to set up a common workhouse for the old, the sick and the infirm. This provided a much cheaper procedure than was involved in promoting a Local Act. The Gilbert Unions formed in Norfolk were:

1792Acle, Oulton
1805Aldborough, Gimingham, St Faith's

Buxton is unusual in that it was originally formed as a Gilbert Union of three parishes then became an Incorporation when it expanded to nine in 1806.

The Acle Union workhouse is said to have been destroyed by fire in 1834.

Following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, most of the Norfolk Incorporations and Gilbert Unions were persuaded to dissolve themselves and become part of new Poor Law Unions. The exceptions were Norwich, which remained an Incorporation until 1863 until local ratepayers forced its dissolution, and Brinton, which was dissolved in 1869 along with all other remaining Gilbert Unions.


  • Digby, Anne. Pauper Palaces (1978, Routledge & Kegan Paul)

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